Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Colin cuts into abbreviated red snapper season

American red snapper can thank Tropical Storm Colin for preventing a bunch of them from getting sore mouths. Rain and squalls kept anglers from getting out several days during the already abbreviated nine-day recreational open season ending tonight. Depths of 120-170 feet seemed most productive. Bonus bycatches included red and gag grouper and large mangrove snapper. There were also scattered catches of wahoo and blackfin tuna. With all the enthusiasm surrounding tarpon season, avoiding crowds has become more difficult. But it can be done. With the tarpon ganging up in the channel just north of Bean Point on Anna Maria Island, dozens of boats are jamming in to take advantage. If you're not comfortable playing "bumper boats," there are options. The many miles of gulf beaches between Sand Key in Clearwater and Longboat Key in Sarasota offer endless opportunities. This time of the season, schools of tarpon migrate up and down the beaches. Patiently presenting baits well ahead of the oncoming schools works best. Soon, the big schools will break up into smaller bunches, making them more difficult to detect. Pick a stretch of beach in a depth where you've seen rolling fish and anchor. Chumming heavily will often draw them to you, even if they're not "showing" well. Bays and backwaters attract large bunches of tarpon in their never-ending search for food and are less pressured. My favorite "honey holes" include Port Manatee, Terra Ceia Bay, the Manatee River, Gadsden Point, Rocky Point, Lizard Flats and anywhere else I find them.

Jay Mastry charters Jaybird out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 321-2142.

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Captainís Corner: Devise a strategy before heading out into the cold

The quality of fishing this month depends on how many cold fronts are in our future. When the water creeps down below 60 degrees, many fish will slow their metabolism in order to survive. They require less food than in the warmer months, making some ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Make sure the fly gets in front of a hungry fish

Back-to-back winter cold fronts not only confuse inshore fish but the fly fishers who pursue them. The most perfectly tied fly is not effective unless it is in front of a fish that is anxious to eat it. The best daytime tides, very low early and inco...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/14/18

Captainís Corner: Cold, windy days just fine for trout fishing

Trout have been my most productive target during the start of this new year. Winter cold fronts and cold water are making conditions difficult to target snook and reds. Strong winds from passing fronts make it hard to work the shallow-water flats. Th...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18

Captainís Corner: Cold driving out kings, but there are alternatives

Mother Nature gives and she takes away. Nature gave us warm water and great king fishing until Dec. 31. She ushered in the new year with a severe cold front with high winds and rough seas that kept us in port every day. The cold air and overcast skie...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Captainís Corner: Techniques for catching (and cooking) tasty sheepshead

Cold water has fishing in sort of slow motion. Middle bay temperatures (Gandy area) are holding in the 54-56 degree range. During this time of year the stalking of large snook and redfish take a back seat to finesse fishing and trying to figure out w...
Published: 01/10/18
Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

With colder weather the first big change is what bait to use. Before the cold fronts in the first week we were using greenbacks and catching a bunch of snook. With the cold weather that has hit us we are now shifting gears and using shrimp and throwi...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18

Captainís Corner: Winter need not interrupt fishing

The inevitable effects of wintertime fishing have finally arrived, but there are plenty of opportunities for the determined angler. Trout, both silver and specs, are cold water tolerant and among the best bets inshore. Now too is when schools of shee...
Published: 01/07/18
Updated: 01/08/18

Captainís Corner: With this cold, itís time for sheepshead

With cold air and water temperatures, nothing is hot when it comes it fishing. An eight-year recovery on snook erased by water temperatures in the 50s. January has not been kind so far. Thereís basically one solid option in times like these: sheepshe...
Published: 01/06/18
Updated: 01/07/18

Captainís Corner: Cold weather shouldnít stop you from targeting trout

Dealing with cold water is nothing new for trout anglers. Most often, fish head to deeper water as they seek more stable temperatures; consequently, deep water near your favorite grass flat will often hold schools of trout until the water temperature...
Published: 01/06/18

Captainís Corner: When weather calms, spearfishermen should target amberjack

Amberjack season opened Jan. 1 and as soon as the seas calm, many anglers and spearfishermen will be heading west into the Gulf of Mexico in search of these fish. The 2017 season was dramatically short, only left open by the Marine Fisheries Council ...
Published: 01/04/18
Updated: 01/05/18